Jordan Thompson put on a clinic in her first Olympic match and the USA women were in complete control Sunday as they dominated Argentina 25-20, 25-19, 25-20.
Also at the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday, the USA went 2-0 in beach.
Not only did April Ross and Alix Klineman open play at Shiokaze Park with a sweep of Chen Xue and Wang Xinxin of China, the newly formed team of USA Olympic veteran Jake Gibb and first-timer Tri Bourne swept Italians Adrian Carambula and Enrico Rossi.
Monday, the USA men are back in action, and we’ll see Team Slaes for the first time, Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil, on the beach.
Thompson, the USA opposite, had 18 kills with three errors in 23 attacks to hit .652 and also had two blocks and a team-high seven digs as the defending bronze-medalists opened their Olympic play at Ariake Arena.
(Thompson has been a rising star. We interviewed her two years ago when she helped the USA qualifiy for the Olympics and then returned to her University of Cincinnati team.)
The USA outside hitters carried much of the rest of the load as Michelle Bartsch-Hackley had 11 kills, five digs, and two aces, and Jordan Larson eight kills, five digs, and a block.
Middles Foluke Akinradewo had four kills and two blocks, and Haleigh Washington had two kills and three blocks to go with two digs.
Libero Justine Wong-Orantes had six digs and three assists. Setter Jordyn Poulter had 37 assists as her team hit .460, and four digs. The USA had 44 kills in 96 attacks with only six errors.
The match was slowed by some scorekeeping and technical delays.
Erika Mercado led Argentina with 14 kills. Argentina had no aces while the USA had five.
USA Volleyball reported that “Assistant Coach Erin Virtue was missing from the bench. Virtue has been quarantined after it was determined she had been in ‘close contact’ with someone who tested positive for COVID. Virtue has not tested positive and is expected to be on the bench at the team’s next match provided appropriate transportation can be found.”
The USA women are back in Pool B action Tuesday for their highly anticipated match with China.
Click here for the complete women’s schedule and results.
Also in Pool B Sunday, Italy swept ROC, the moniker for the team from Russia, and Turkey surprised everyone with a sweep of China.
In Pool A, Serbia swept the Dominican Republic, Japan swept Kenya, and in the last match of the day, Brazil swept Korea.
Monday the men move back into Ariake Arena, and that includes the second match of the day when the USA men play ROC. The USA men opened with that huge sweep of France on Saturday, while the ROC beat Argentina in four.
Also on tap in Pool B are France vs. Tunisia and Brazil playing Argentina.
In Pool A, Iran plays Venezuela, Poland plays Italy, and Japan plays Canada.
Click here for the complete men’s schedule and results.
Second-seeded Ross and Klineman — playing in her first Olympic match, beat the 23rd-seeded Chinese 21-17, 21-19. The Americans were in control in the first set, but trailed 19-18 in the second before Ross had two kills and Klineman ended it.
Also in Pool B, Spain’s Liliana Fernandez and Elsa Baquerizo, seeded 14th, beat 11th-seeded Sanna Keizer and Madelein Meppelink of the Netherlands 19-21, 21-18, 16-14.
The A Team plays the Spainards on Tuesday.
The story of Gibb and Bourne is nothing short of remarkable, considering all of the developments of the past week. Gibb has been to the Olympics three times previously, but Bourne is at the Games for the first time.
Gibb and Bourne are seeded 10th but had never competed together before. Nonetheless they swept the 15th-seeded Italians 21-18, 21-19.
Gibb made it to the 2008 Beijing quarterfinals with Sean Rosenthal, and they finished fifth again in London. In Rio, he and Casey Patterson finished 19th. Bourne is a first-time Olympian who replaced Taylor Crabb when he tested positive for COVID-19 before the Games. Bourne’s regular partner is Trevor Crabb, Taylor’s brother.
Bourne, the product of Honolulu who played indoors at USC, has overcome an autoimmune disease. What’s more, he and Travis Mewhirter are the hosts of SANDCAST, a podcast about beach volleyball that debuted and is hosted here on VolleyballMag.com. In an episode this past June, the subject was Bourne himself and his remarkable comeback.
Also in Pool C, third-seeded Cherif Samba and Ahmed Tijan of Qatar defeated 22nd-seeded Mirco Gerson and Adrian Heidrich of Switzerland 21-17, 21-16. Gibb and Bourne play the Swiss to open play Wednesday.
Among the other beach results from Sunday, eighth-seeded Brazilians Evandro Goncalves and Bruno Oscar Schmidt (who won gold in Rio in 2016 with Alison) had to go three to beat 17th-seeded Chileans Esteban Grimalt and Marco Grimalt 21-15, 16-21, 15-12; and Italians Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai, seeded No. 18 but the 2016 silver medalists, knocked off seventh-seeded Germans Julius Thole and Clemens Wickler 19-21, 21-19, 15-13.
Click here for all of Sunday’s beach volleyball results.
The USA’s Claes and Sponcil play their first Pool D match Monday morning when they take on Tina Graudina and Anastasija Kravcenoka of Latvia. Claes went to USC before Graudina, who was on last spring’s NCAA-championship team.
Click here for the complete 10-match Monday beach schedule.